If you’re looking for a unique urban hiking spot in San Francisco… If you love magnificent vista points and scenic views… If you splurged on a fantastic meal the night before and feel the need to work it off, this is the spot for you.
Grand View Park, sitting atop Turtle Hill in San Francisco’s Sunset District, does indeed offer a grand view. At 666 feet elevation, this four acre park rises above the Golden Gate Heights neighborhood to offer visitors an incredible 360 degree view of the city and bay.
To reach the top of Grand View Park, you first need to climb a steep, zig-zagging staircase up Turtle Hill. Turtle Hill, also called Larsen’s Peak, is one of four peaks in the Golden Gate Heights area. The others, Hawk Hill, Rocky Outcrop Park, and Golden Gate Heights Park can be found to the south. At the peak, you’ll find cypress trees and a single bench — the perfect place to relax and enjoy the view, watch a spectacular sunset, or check out the 4th of July fireworks. Just a bit below the peak, you’ll find a dirt trail that wraps around the circumference of Turtle Hill.
We have climbed the 16th Avenue Tiled Stairs and visited Grand View Park three times. Twice in the morning on clear sunny days, and once on a cloudy, foggy day in the afternoon.
- When it’s sunny, you can see across the city and enjoy spectacular views that include the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Park, the San Francisco Bay, Sutro Heights, the Marin headlands, Point Reyes, and the Financial District.
- When it’s foggy, you can barely see 15 feet in front of you. The views are swallowed up by the thick fog and it gets absolutely, utterly freezing cold.
On the foggy day we visited, even bundled up, we were so cold our fingers, noses, and ears were burning when we got back in the car! On the clear days, we still needed to be bundled up! Grand View Park is very windy, which makes it also very cold. It was so windy on the peak this past weekend, the wind was almost blowing us over. Thankfully we found some respite from the wind on the dirt trail, where we were semi-protected from the wind, and we got some great photos too.
Check out the difference between a foggy day and a sunny day:
Grand View Park Ecology
Grand View Park at the summit of Turtle Hill sits on rock called Franciscan chert that formed 140 million years ago when the area was part of the ancient sea floor. Today it is home to a dune plant habitat of coastal scrub, including bush lupine, dune tansy, beach strawberry, bush monkey flower, and coyote brush. It is a harsh environment for plants due to a lack of moisture and very little rain.
After The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
Visiting Grand View Park is the perfect way to cap off your climb up the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps. After climbing the 163 step tiled staircase, you’re going to climb a whole lot more steps, which makes this a fantastic urban hike.
From the top of the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, cross 15th Avenue and climb the concrete staircase to the right to 14th Avenue. Cross the street once more and begin your climb up the wooden staircases to the peak of Turtle Hill and Grand View Park.
Know Before You Go
- Grand View Park is located at Moraga Street and 14th Avenue in San Francisco, California 94122.
- The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps are located on Moraga Street between 15th Avenue and 16th Avenue in San Francisco, California 94122.
- There are 0.2 miles of trail at Grand View Park, which includes the wooden staircase and a small sand/dirt trail that wraps around the peak.
- Want a new view for the walk down Turtle Hill? From the sand/dirt trail there is a second, steep concrete staircase that leads down to 14th Avenue.
- There are no public restrooms.